Published on: Thursday, November 19, 2020

A federal judge on Thursday halted the U.S. Justice Department’s plan to execute Orlando Hall, an African American, by lethal injection in the evening, after an appeals court this week found the government’s death penalty protocol violates federal law (article available here).

Federal officials were scheduled to kill Orlando Hall at 6 p.m. at the prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, before the ruling. The D.C. Circuit ruled Wednesday that the government’s methods are unlawful because the Bureau of Prisons is using the drug without the required prescription. “The court is deeply concerned that the government intends to proceed with a method of execution that this court and the Court of Appeals have found violates federal law,” the federal district court wrote.

Requests from Hall’s lawyers to stop the execution are also pending before the Supreme Court.

An hour after Hall’s planned execution Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit was waiting for responses from the government and Hall’s lawyers to district court’s order.

Hall, 49, would be the eighth person executed by the U.S. government since the Trump administration pushed to resume federal executions for the first time in 17 years. The Justice Department has carried out more lethal injections in the past four months than the total number the federal government executed over the previous three decades.

Another person, Brandon Bernard, is set to be executed on December 10, and also asked the court to delay his date.

In a separate case, a federal court on Thursday postponed until at least Dec. 31 the execution of a third death-row inmate, Lisa Montgomery, who would be the first woman put to death by the federal government in nearly 70 years. The court found that Montgomery’s longtime lawyers, who became infected with the coronavirus after traveling to visit Montgomery in prison, should have time to recover to prepare her clemency application.